Plants annual. Culms to 40 cm tall, but usually shorter.
Leaf sheaths densely hairy; auricles well developed; blades densely hairy; sheaths of innovations closed (margins connate) when young.
Inflorescences spikelike, with solitary spikelets, some nodes with fertile spikelets, some with sterile spikelets, the two interspersed; up to 18 fertile spikelets; rachis internodes varying, often less than 1 mm; rachis disarticulating just above a node but with several nodes attached, some with fertile spikelets, some with sterile spikelets.
Fertile spikelets with about 6 florets, usually only the lowest 2 bisexual. Glumes equal, 8-19 mm long, awnlike except slightly widened at the base, edges ciliate. Lemmas of fertile florets 5-9 mm, densely tuberculate, not keeled, margins ciliate, apices awned, awns 12-29 mm long, ciliate; sterile florets shorter, nearly awnlike. Anthers about 1 mm long.
Sterile spikelets with awnlike glumes and lemmas.
Caryopsis adherent to th lemma and palea.
There is only one species in the genus, Heteranthelium piliferum
From western Asia, (Lebanon, Palestine, and Turkey, east to Iran, Turkmenistan, Kyrghizstan, and Afghanistan.
Old records from Marseille and Montpelier are considered to reflect introductions that have not persisted.
Frederiksen, S. 1993. Taxonomic studies in some annual genera of the Triticeae. Nordic Journal of Botany 13: 481-493.